Comparing The Best Horseback Riding Shoes

Last Updated on February 9, 2022 by Cinthia

Riding a horse is one of the most exhilarating feelings. It is a thrill like nothing else in the world. However, before you ride you need to figure out what horseback riding shoes to wear.

Just like any sport, you want to make sure you have the right equipment. Having the right pair of shoes for horseback riding will not only provide comfort and performance, but they will also provide safety for your feet. Since a horse stepping on your foot could cause serious injuries, it is important to have the proper footwear while riding.

Choosing the Best Horseback Riding Shoes

Whether you are wanting to go trail riding as a new activity or are just starting up horseback riding lessons, you will want to make sure you have appropriate shoes. You want to ensure the shoes you wear are functional, comfortable, and safe.

Though there are a few different types of shoes you can wear horseback riding, you want to make sure you are wearing closed-toe shoes. This will protect your feet from any serious damage if you get stepped on.

The best shoes to wear while riding are English or Western riding boots. Buying riding boots will give you the most functionality, comfort, and protection.

However, if you are not planning on doing lots of riding or are unsure you are going to stick with it, there are other types of shoes you can wear. Since riding boots can be expensive, you can wear other shoes before deciding to make the investment buying them.

You preferably want to wear boots that have a heel. Muck boots, hiking boots, and rain boots make good alternatives to riding boots. You may also wear sneakers for riding; however, they are not as ideal.

Why Do Horseback Riders Wear Boots?

Just like cleats are an essential part of a soccer or football players’ uniform, the same goes for riding boots and horseback riders. Riders wear boots that are made of a variety of different materials, styles, and are sold at various price points. 

Boot Material

Boots are made in a variety of different materials so you will have a lot of options to choose from. Leather, synthetic, rubber, and fabric are some of the most common materials used. Many boots are also waterproof, water-resistant, insulated, or have a breathable material, so choose what will be the best for you and the climate where you will be riding the most. 

  • Leather

When you think of boots, leather is what comes to mind first. Leather is strong and holds up the best when it is used for riding every day, is more resistant to abrasions, rips, and tears than other materials. This material is breathable, but will still keep your feet warm during winter riding.

Leather also offers more comfort to the rider than other materials, as you get your new boot broke in the leather mold to the shape of your foot giving you the best fit with amazing comfort. Leather boots are water-resistant but prolonged exposure to water will cause your feet to become wet. 

  • Synthetic

Boots made of synthetic material can look almost the same as leather boots. Synthetic boots are a great option if you are not going to be riding every day, they are durable but won’t hold up to daily riding like leather boots.

Synthetic boots will also be more comfortable in a short period of time, which is ideal for the occasional rider. These boots are also more water-resistant and or waterproof, making them good all-weather boots. 

  • Rubber

Choosing to purchase boots made of rubber is a great option if you have a child who is just starting or if you live in a wet climate only have one pair of boots. Rubber boots are very warm, but can sometimes be so warm your feet and legs may perspire and in turn, may make it difficult to take the boots off. These boots are very easy to clean and hold up moderately well when used regularly. 


Riding boots come in a variety of styles. There are boots made specifically for English and Western. The biggest thing to remember is to avoid chunky soles that can possibly become caught in the stirrup.

Leather bottoms are ideal and a heel is a must. Some boots have a bit of tread to help grip the stirrup but it is minimal. The height of the boot is also something that is more of a preference if you are not competing in the boot you school in. For example, one reason English riders wear tall boots so the stirrup leathers don’t pinch their calves. 


Riding boots vary in price with leather being the most expensive, followed by synthetic, and lastly rubber. If you ride daily or ride multiple horses a day purchasing a good quality pair of leather boots is a great investment.

Leather boots will last a long time and many times you are able to have the sole replaced instead of purchasing a new pair of boots. Synthetic boots need to be replaced more often so if you ride a lot you will end up spending quite a bit because you will be replacing the boots every few months. And rubber boots will be the best choice for those that have kids and will be having to replace them often.

Horseback Riding Shoes: English Riding Boots

Paddock Boots

  • Paddock Boots are the most popular type of English riding boots. They are short boots that go up a few inches past your ankle. They are a great option for the first pair of riding boots. Paddock boots generally have zippers or laces, making them easy to get on.
ARIAT Women's Scout Zip Paddock Paddock Boot
ARIAT Women’s Scout Zip Paddock Paddock Boot
  • Some paddock boots are slip on and are referred to as Jodhpur boots. Jodhpur boots are used as show boots in saddle seat classes.
Horze Signature Jodhpur Boots
Horze Signature Jodhpur Boots

Paddock boots make great everyday riding boots. They may easily be worn with half chaps if desired. Paddock boots are durable and comfortable, making them a great riding boot.

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Horseback Riding Tall Boots

Tall boots are worn by hunters, jumpers, and dressage riders. There are three different tall boots: field, dress, and dressage.

  • Field boots have laces in the front and are traditionally worn in hunter, jumper, and flat classes.
TuffRider Ladies Belmont Field Boot
  • Dress boots are made with soft, supple leather and do not have laces, they are commonly used by jumpers and dressage riders. Dressage boots are made with stiff leather and are used in all levels of dressage.
TuffRider Ladies Belmont Dress Boots

Most people don’t wear tall boots on a daily basis. Tall boots can be hard to get on, so many people opt to wear paddock boots with half chaps. However, some people do prefer the performance of tall boots better, so they wear them on a regular basis.

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Horseback Riding Shoes: Western Riding Boots

Western riding boots come in various styles and are often known for their flashy designs. They provide comfort, protection, functionality, and durability. Many people love cowboy boots because of their versatility and fashion.

  • Cowboy boots are a popular choice of riding boots for those who ride western or love the classic look of a cowboy boot. Cowboy boots are designed to be easy to put on and keep you comfortable on your feet all day long.
Ariat Women’s Fatbaby Western Boot

Terrain and Hiking Boots

If you are looking for a versatile boot that can be used for more than just horseback riding, terrain and hiking boots are great options. Most terrain and hiking boots are made from durable materials, are designed to be functional and comfortable, have a heel, go above your ankle, and have laces or zippers.

Hiking and terrain boots are designed to be walked in for hours, so they are built to be comfy. They make a great riding boot because they often come with a heel. They are also designed to hold up in tough conditions and have good traction.

Ariat Women’s Terrain H2O Hiking Boot

Many brands of equestrian boots make terrain boots that double as riding boots. Not only do they work great as riding boots, but they can also be used for chores and outdoor activities. Some terrain boots are designed for endurance riding.

Horseback Riding Shoes: Non-Equestrian Boots

Muck and Rain Boots

Muck boots and rain boots can double as riding boots if you don’t have other options available. Muck boots tend to be sturdier than rain boots, so they are the better option of the two. Both types of boots provide a heel and come in short and tall lengths.

Though some muck boots are designed to double as riding boots, some are too clunky to fit comfortably in a stirrup. If you decide to ride in muck boots or rain boots, you want to ride in boots that have a heel.

Muck Boots Chore Rubber Women’s Work Boot

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Tennis Shoes

Though not ideal, tennis shoes can be used for horseback riding. However, if you have a boot you can wear instead, go with that. If you do wear a tennis shoe horseback riding, make sure that it has a good traction and if possible, a small heel.

Salomon Men's Pathfinder Hiking Shoe
Salomon Men’s Pathfinder Hiking Shoe

Some places may not allow you to wear tennis shoes for riding, so make sure you check before you go. Tennis shoes will not provide good protection if you get stepped on by a horse.

Proper Riding Shoes

Whether you are going on your first trail ride or are an avid rider, you want to make sure you have proper footwear on while horseback riding. The best option for everyday riding boots is paddock boots, cowboy boots, or terrain boots. However, any boot with a heel, traction, and hard toe will work for horseback riding.

If you do not have any of those available, a muck style boot or tennis shoe can be used, though tennis shoes are not an ideal choice. It is important to make sure the shoe you are riding in has a heel, provides traction, is functional, and provides protection.  

 Please comment if you have any questions on this article or have any remarks regarding this post!


What are the most comfortable horse riding boots?

As has been noted, there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to horse boots. The right boot for a person's height and weight can make all the difference in comfort. However, one of the most popular choices are Ovation Flex Sport boots. They are famous for offering outstanding comfort. This boot is designed with a flexible sole, which allows the foot to move naturally. It also has an in-molded EVA midsole that provides superior cushioning and shock absorption. The outsole of the Ovation Flex Sport boot features a combination of a non-marking rubber compound for excellent traction and durability.

Can you wear cowboy boots Horseback riding?

Yes! These boots are designed to be worn on horseback and protect the wearer's feet, ankles and legs from injury. They are typically made from durable leather, have a protected toe as well as a generous heel height. If you are going to be horseback riding on the open range, you will need a sturdy pair of boots. They are your feet's best friends and they must be comfortable. Boots can make or break a ride. You will not want to wear something that makes you miserable while you are out riding. A good cowboy boot should be comfortable, waterproof, warm and have a reinforced toe for safety. Cowboy boots are available in a variety of styles and sizes but the most important is to choose a pair that fits you properly.

What shoes do you wear horseback riding in the summer?

If you are going to be out on the trail all day, you will want something that is both comfortable and provides good protection for your feet, ankles and legs. When it comes to selecting a pair of riding shoes for the warmer weather months, there are many things to consider. Your primary concerns are comfort and safety. It is also important that the shoe you select be breathable so you will stay cool and dry. However, since riding boots are typically made of leather it might be difficult to find a suitable pair made from lighter, more breathable material. Ankle high boots are probably the best compromise when horseback riding in the summertime. They will still play they role as a protection for your feet but will be less hot than knee high riding boots.

Can you wear Dr Martens for horse riding?

Dr. Martens is an English company that has been producing sturdy work boots for over 50 years. Their boots are favored by tradespeople and construction workers all over the world. However, they are not recommended for horseback riding even though some people do wear them. Because they are wide in front and have rigged sole, they present a great risk of getting caught in the stirrups. This could result in a serious injury in case you fall off the horse and get dragged around because your shoes are stuck in the stirrups.

Are Ropers good for riding?

Ropers were designed to be worn on horseback and are ideal for all types of western riding. They provide support for the rider's legs and feet so that they are more comfortable and offer more control. In fact, ropers are often called "cowboy boots". This is because many of them have the same design as cowboy boots, with a toe box that covers the toe and a soft leather lining that will keep your foot warm when riding.